PARIS, FRANCE – Is it a drone? Is it a plane? Could it be the Green Goblin? No, it’s Franky Zapata with his Flyboard Air. Zapata is a former jetskiing champion, French military reservist and he is the inventor of the Flyboard Air. This year’s Bastille Day celebrations in France featured Zapata hovering above Paris on his jet-powered Flyboard Air. It was like a spectacular scene from a Marvel superhero movie.
A proud French President
Zapata made French President Emmanuel Macron very proud on Bastille Day, as he shared the incredible video of the flying soldier in a Tweet, saying: “Proud of our army, modern and innovative”.
Every year on July 14, Bastille Day is commemorated by the French with a military parade and flypasts at the Champs-Élysées and a spectacular fireworks show at the Eiffel Tower. Bastille Day is the day the French people took over the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789, which led to the French revolution.
Flying like the Green Goblin
Perhaps many Spider-Man fans around the world will have the same thought as I had when they’ll see the amazing footage of Franky Zapata flying on his awesome Flyboard Air, in the presence of French President Macron in Paris on Sunday. I immediately thought of the famous fight scene between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, from the 2002 Spider-Man movie. The Green Goblin is a fictional supervillain, flying on a jet-powered flyboard and one of Spider-Man’s greatest enemies.
Well, there is nothing fictional about Franky Zapata and his Flyboard Air. This incredible footage is real, folks!
Jetpack Man, Zapata’s predecessor
The incredible footage also made me think of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where a similar event occurred; Bill Suitor, 39-year-old, flew on that day with his Rocket Belt or Jetpack for about 14 seconds over the crowd in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. He flew like Iron Man in his best days. Thousands of people in the stadium and 6 billion people worldwide were amazed of what they just witnessed, including me. I was a child in the 80s – already in love with everything that flies in the sky – and I just couldnt believe my eyes.
Bill Suitor aka Jetpack Man – was way ahead of his time and he was very brave, because it was conducted in public for the first time. It also was a risky flight, because of the rising pressure in the Jetpack in the hot sun, while waiting for take off. However, Bill Suitor was an ace Rocketbelt pilot and fortunately the flight went well and Jetpack Man landed safely, in the presence of President Ronald Reagan. Bill Suitor made history that day and it sure was something most people thought was impossible in those days. William “Bill” P. Suitor, now 74-years-old, was Bell Aerosystems’ Rocketbelt testpilot and made over 1000 flights in 14 different types of rocket powered flying machines.
Inventor and pilot of the Flyboard Air
The 40-year old former jetskiing champion and military reservist Franky Zapata invented the Flyboard Air in 2016, after he also invented its younger brother in 2011; the original Flyboard, which has become a watersports sensation since then.
The difference with the original Flyboard is that it connects to a personal watercraft turbine with a long hose. The Flyboard Air uses an ‘Independent Propulsion Unit’ to fly hose-free for up to ten minutes. According to his company – Zapata Racing – the device can reach speeds of up to 118mph (190km/h) and a maximum height of 10,000 feet.
This is not the first time Zapata flew on the Flyboard Air in public. The first videos of Zapata flying on the Flyboard Air appeared on the internet 2 years ago, where they soon went viral. Some people doubted though, whether the footage was real or merely a marketing gimmick.
In an earlier interview with The Verge, Zapata said it took 4 years to develop the Flyboard Air, including algorithms that control the angle of its turbines and adjust its power. The Flyboard Air has four 250-horsepower turbo-engines, which are fueled by Jet A1 kerosene, carried in a tank strapped to its rider’s back. Two other engines are on each side of the board, for stabilization.
The pilot of the Flyboard Air uses a hand remote to control the engines’ throttle. When Zapata soared above the Champs-Élysées on his Flyboard Air on Sunday, he was holding a rifle in his left hand and the hand remote in his right hand, as you can see in the videos.
The future of the Flyboard Air
Zapata has acknowledged that the Flyboard Air is not the kind of thing people could just pick up and learn, but his company has already begun working on a smaller, more consumer-friendly version that people could fly while seated. You still have to be very brave though, to fly like that in the open air.
Zapata’s longer-term goals are even more ambitious; “You won’t believe it. We will fly the clouds,” Zapata told The Verge earlier. “My goal is to ride the clouds. Do like snowboarding in the powder, but I want to do it in a cloud. That’s my dream, and I will do my best to realize that.”
A true hero
Franky Zapata may not be a real superhero, but the daredevil definitely amazed the crowd at the Champs-Élysées during Bastille Day – including President Macron – and probably thousands of people around the world, who saw the video online.
Franky Zapata is definitely a hero for being an amazing innovator in aviation. He is brave, he is changing the future of personal aviation like no man has ever done before, and he always aims high to pursue his dreams to fly high.
I love this guy!
Visit https://www.zapata.com for more information about Frank Zapata’s amazing Flyboard Air!
Jerry Taha is Chief Editor, Author and main contributor of flyhigh.news. He has written for avgeekery.com and luchtvaartnieuws.nl
Jerry is a passionate author, photographer, videographer, and YouTube creator. In addition to his love for aviation, he loves to travel, being in nature, and he is an Ajax Amsterdam fan.
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